THE SHIAWASSEE COUNTY COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE met on Wednesday, July 15. The highlight of the meeting was a discussion on the symbolic 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County proposal.
Shown far left along the wall are Andrea Kelley Garrison (Democrat candidate for State Rep.), along with Anthony Tolbert and Howard Galloway and other supporters of Michigan for 2A Sanctuary Counties.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
Michigan has 83 counties and many moved in early spring to adopt varied resolutions to symbolically affirm 2nd Amendment gun ownership rights. Grassroots social media groups gathered behind the scenes to coordinate volunteers toward the effort of creating a redundancy resolution at the county level in support of what is guaranteed in the state constitution – sort of a back up plan. To be clear, these resolutions are not law; they offer a symbolic means for 2nd Amendment supporters to feel less threatened by what is often referenced as “red flag laws,” as many gun owners think they need to pursue more public methods of guaranteeing the continuation of gun ownership in Michigan.
During the Committee of the Whole meeting of the Shiawassee Board of Commissioners in the Surbeck Building on Wednesday, July 15, the committee listened to public discussion on the topic of the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary proposal.
The idea of this proposal dates back to February with the announcement made by Anthony Tolbert of Shiawassee County, the volunteer chair for the local 2nd Amendment group. At that time, Tolbert shared the group was seeking county approval to become a sanctuary county to discourage further state level activity regarding increased gun legislation. Tolbert, along with vice chair Howard Galloway, have been active with the sanctuary group since that point, though the pandemic brought most county activity to a halt – including forwarding the proposal. More information on the background of this group can be found on social media by searching for Michigan for 2A Sanctuary Counties – Shiawassee or at www.owossoindependent.com.
Several constituents were on hand to offer opinions regarding the issue including Tolbert, Galloway, Mike Leaf and Andrea Kelly Garrison, a Bennington Twp. democrat running for State Representative. Tolbert and Galloway explained the 2A Sanctuary County proposal and some of the language in the resolution. Garrison expressed opposition to the proposal.
“Democrats are for common sense gun laws that save lives and against these divisive, base politics, especially during this pandemic,” she shared, expressing an interest in seeing a stronger bipartisan effort in the county that would be more representative of a broader base of voters. Republicans currently hold every seat on the board of commissioners since the death of Democrat John Horvath in March 2019.
Tolbert told the committee the group had 700 signatures in support of the proposal and stated he lacks faith in liberals supporting the 2nd amendment based on current mainstream politics.
During discussion by committee members, Marlene Webster stated, “I strongly support 2nd Amendment rights … and I’m sure there are laws out there violating 2nd Amendment rights, but I think more core to the constitution than the 2nd Amendment is a balance of power. We have a system to appeal unconstitutional laws. I feel that giving that authority to local law enforcement puts an additional burden on them, and frankly, violates the constitution.” She explained it was her duty to uphold the entire constitution and individuals who believe their rights have been violated should go through the courts system – and not through a county board.
Committee member Dan McMaster, who took over Horvath’s sole Democrat seat for District II on the board in 2019, shared he had received a number of threatening emails and phone calls since this issue was announced. “Some of my constituents may disagree with this and that’s their right, but by far the majority of the constituents in my district in this county support this.” He stated he “did his homework on this,” explaining that the sanctuary county concept is not an “NRA conspiracy.” He continued with, “In almost four years of my public service, this will probably be the vote that I will be the most proud of.”
The item was moved to the Thursday Shiawassee Board of Commissioners meeting. Commissioner Marlene Webster was the only no vote during the Wednesday meeting. On Thursday, July 16, the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners officially voted six to one in favor of the 2A Sanctuary County proposal. Webster was the lone descenting vote.